A Strange Loneliness

Four large commercial fans and an imposing dehumidifier whirred noisily, drying the carpet, and the furniture was disarranged (a bit of a plumbing disaster having dispersed large quantities of water on part of the floor) in the lower level room in which I normally take my evening snack and visit my virtual haunts. Gloomy machine drone and disorder denying us our wont, Nelson and I took to the library (in which my beloved noir charcoal hangs and Nelson has posed fetchingly for a journal post). Nelson parked expectantly beside his filled water bowl, on the rug, and I deposited my coffee, a glass of milk and one of those huge and ridiculously over-frosted and sprinkle-adorned cupcakes that Costco sells on the small table next to the chair in which I planned to install myself, handed Nelson his Milkbone and selected, almost instinctively, from one of the bookshelves Margaret Forster's Daphne du Maurier: The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller. Since first reading the book a few years ago, I have returned to it, a few pages or a chapter at a time, often – not because Daphne du Maurier is my favorite author (as regular readers might know, Cornell Woolrich holds that distinction) but because I identify strongly with the Rebecca writer's violence of emotion, revealed in the Forster book through a sampling of du Maurier's correspondence with her close (and ever-unattainably distant) friend, Ellen Doubleday, wife of the English novelist's US publisher.

My scanning included, yet again, this passage, which I find especially resonant:

It was, she realized, a strange kind of loneliness from which she sometimes suffered—not the loneliness which comes from having 'loved but lost' but rather from 'feeling the loneliness of a loved one never known'. She felt there was an experience of loving and being loved that she had never attained, and it had nothing to do with sex. It was to do with being perfectly in tune with someone, which might involve the body, it was true, but was more to do with the fusing of mind and spirit.

(The above items in quotations come from a 2/22/50 letter from du Maurier to Doubleday.)

I, yet to know what I shall call a "conventional loneliness," one derived from either a temporary or consistent lack of what some might quaintly label "company," feel frequently this "strange" emotion, which Daphne du Maurier channeled so successfully into her work. ... In any encounter with Forster's description of Daphne's "strange kind of loneliness," (not strange but familiar to me), I am reminded of the similarly titled, melodically undistinguished and lyrically interesting ditty that the Bunny Berigan Orchestra waxed 10/7/37:

A Strange Loneliness

Music by Sammy Mysels, Words by Johnny Burke

A strange loneliness was in my heart
For someone I never knew.
A strange tenderness was in my heart –
And no one to show it to.

Then you came along with sunshine and roses to share.
Then you came along with kisses that taught me to care.

A strange loneliness has turned into
A strange happiness with you.

If only the condition could be so simply and pleasantly alleviated.